[Words and phrases in bold are found in the glossary section at the end of the text]

An interesting spat took place last week between Vardags, who describe themselves as a “top divorce law and family firm, specialising in high net worth and complex cases”* and the Legal Sector Workers United, a trade union who represent workers in the legal sector. What happened?

Earlier this year, there was widespread newspaper coverage of a leaked document (a memo), apparently sent by Vardags’ President, Ayesha Vardag, concerning the firm’s dress code. The memo contained interesting detail about how Ms Vardag wanted her employees to dress. For example, she said that her female employees could dress in a “discreetly sexy way” but “never tarty”. Ms Vardag most definitely did not approve of her employees wearing cardigans.

Vardags said that the firm had to apply for a court order - an interim injunction - to prevent one of the firm’s former employees from disclosing further confidential information about the matter. On Friday 13th November 2020, a voluntary order by consent was made by the court, after the employee gave assurances. However, both sides claimed ‘victory’.

Vardags said that an order for costs had been made in the sum of approximately £68,000, which have been reserved to a future date. However, Legal Sector Workers United said, “The High Court battle saw the firm Vardags apply for an interim injunction and costs of £68,000, along with an order requiring the ex-employee to provide certain information within 24 hours. Vardags even sought to have the application heard in secret but on all these points their position was rejected by the court.”

Legal Sector Workers United were certainly looking on the bright side last Friday night after the hearing. Its final tweet of the day made reference to the leaked email, saying, “Big up our incredible members, hope you all have a 'discreetly sexy' weekend.



spat – a informal word for disagreement, usually over something which is unimportant.

widespread – something distributed on a large scale.

leaked – something (usually private or secret) which is intentionally disclosed or given to someone. For example, government documents and policy papers are sometimes leaked to the media.

interim - Temporary (until a final decision is made)

injunction – A kind of court order which (usually) prevents or restrains a person from doing something.

reserved – Here, it means ‘put off to a future date’, and not finalised yet.

Big up’ – This is a slang expression, used as an expression of respect to or acknowledgment of, people in a particular group (here, the members of the union).

© Cambridge Legal English Academy 2020

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